Chemistry Doctor of Philosophy Degree Program

(See additionally:  Requirements for all Chemistry Graduate Programs)

The aim of the program leading to the Ph.D. in chemistry is to develop an ability to conceive significant research problems in chemistry, to design experiments for the successful investigation of these problems, and to communicate the results of these efforts to the scientific community. The program is designed to train the student to become an independent researcher capable of pursuing a career in the teaching of chemistry and in academic or industrial research.

The program of study and research requires a minimum of three academic years of full-time study and research beyond the baccalaureate degree and typically involves a four-year commitment.

Course Requirements (60 credits minimum)

A minimum of six 3-credit letter-graded graduate courses in chemistry as advised. Three courses are to be chosen from the following set of six core courses: Chm 520A, Chm 525A, Chm 525B, Chm 535A, Chm 535B, or Chm 544 and must be taken within the first three semesters. Two of the six required courses must be within the student's field of specialization. The letter-graded course requirements must be completed within 6 semesters of the date when the student enters.

Qualifying (Cumulative) Examinations

The student must pass two cumulative examinations within the first two years and a total of six cumulative examinations within the first three years to satisfy this requirement. Examinations are given eight times in an academic year. They will be spaced approximately one month apart throughout the academic year.

Each of the four sectors: biochemistry, organic, inorganic, and physical will give a separate exam. Exams from more than one sector may be taken on any occasion. The subject of specialization of a student is determined by his/her selection of cumulative examinations. A minimum of four examinations must be passed in his/her chosen major sector.


A student must complete the proposition requirement before being admitted to candidacy. The student will submit in writing to their doctoral subcommittee a description of the research they intend to conduct for their dissertation. This description should include highlighting the background, significance and planned approach that will be used to conduct this study. This written proposal must be defended in a formal presentation to the Committee before the end of the fifth semester of the student’s graduate study.

Full Time Study in Residence

Each student in a doctoral program must engage in full-time study beyond the master's degree or equivalent at the University in at least two sessions after admission to the advanced program. This requirement is designed to insure for each doctoral student a sustained period of intensive intellectual growth. For this purpose a student will enroll in full-time study (12 credits) taken in each of two sessions, or in a regular session and a summer session, not necessarily consecutive, which must be completed satisfactorily, except as indicated here:

  1. Students authorized to register for work on a dissertation may meet this 12 credit per session requirement by satisfactorily completing a minimum of 8 earned course credits and registering for work on the dissertation for load credits that will bring the total to 12 credits for each of two sessions.
  2. Graduate assistants holding a full assistantship may meet the residency requirement by completing one academic year in such a position, including the satisfactory completion of a minimum of 15 registered credits during the year plus satisfactory completion of assigned duties.

Admission to Candidacy

A student is admitted to candidacy for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy upon the following:

  1. Satisfactory record in course and seminar study;
  2. Satisfactory completion of the research tool requirement;
  3. Completion of University residence requirements;
  4. Satisfactory completion of the doctoral qualifying examination.

Ph.D. Dissertation

The final requirement to be met by the student is the completion of research, writing of a dissertation (thesis) on this work, and presentation of a thesis seminar.

The thesis seminar will be scheduled to take place within two weeks after the date of submission of the thesis to the doctoral committee. Following the public presentation the student and the doctoral committee meet to discuss necessary changes, if any, before the final copy is submitted.